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Nifty Newsletter #01
December 2nd, 2021

Welcome to the first edition of the Nifty Newsletter! A community-run bulletin that highlights Blitmap derivative projects and some of the recent happenings in the Blit universe. I hope you enjoy reading and look forward to spotlighting some of my favorite derivative projects and their makers! Let’s get to it.

With the recent tease of the enemies, many of us in the Blitmap community are getting excited about the forthcoming release. What will a high-fidelity enemy look like? Will it take on the properties of a Blitmap’s composition and palette? Why are they and the Blitnauts at odds? And how do the original Blitmap NFTs “power” them, the heroes or the universe? Only time will tell.

This newsletter is not just about what’s happening in the Blitmap universe but also about the people building on top of it. When Dom and the other sixteen original Blitmap artists took the revolutionary step of making the original Blitmap compositions part of the public domain with a CC0 license, they ensured that derivatives wouldn’t have to be made in the margins, but could be celebrated in public. Later the Blitmap community would follow suit by voting to make all siblings part of the public domain as well. Ultimately, the public domain decision is predicated on the view that creations riffing on the Blitmap artwork drive value back to the original pieces.

Setting the Stage

This monthly newsletter will focus on derivatives of Blitmaps and those who are creating them. The power of the CC0 license is that it allows individuals (and companies) to create art, games and narratives without the express consent of the Blitmap creators or holders. In a recent tweet, Dom summarized the license’s value: “establish backstory & building blocks, create examples of character driven narrative in diff formats to fire up imagination, cc0 all of it, add incentives see what happens.”

Dom’s tweet looking into the future of Blitmap.
Dom’s tweet looking into the future of Blitmap.

Can you imagine having the power to do anything you wanted with a Pokémon character without fear of reproach? Or the ability to remix some of the most classic beats without having the estate of a famous singer coming after you? Or even producing a unique story arc in a Marvel storyline (in the vein of their smash-hit Life Story series) without having to request permission from Disney? That is the power of the CC0 license—individuals can create, riff on and produce amazing things with the characters they love the most.

That age-old tech industry debate of open vs. closed is now playing out on the Web3 battleground, pitting intellectual property against the public domain. But the battle extends beyond open-source software and proprietary platforms; today, it is playing out in artistic endeavors fueled by the rise of NFTs.

Who I Am and Why I’m Writing this Newsletter

Now that the table has been set, allow me to introduce myself. I’m NiftyPins, a long-time-listener, first-time-caller to the cryptocurrency/NFT/web3 world. I’ve been on the periphery of this tech for a long time without ever jumping in. I missed out on Bitcoin because I thought $10/coin was “the ceiling,” and I didn’t get a Cryptopunk in 2017 because the free ones were already claimed, and someone had the audacity to sell one for real US dollars when I could just “right-click-and-save-it.” It wasn’t until the spring of 2021 that I finally dove into NFTs, later discovering the Blitmap project and community.

The collection of all 1,700 Blitmaps.
The collection of all 1,700 Blitmaps.

I was around for the “Summer of JPEGs” and saw a meteoric rise in the interest in and price of NFTs. But despite the scene’s craziness, the Blitmap community remained one of the most solid around, a Discord server I wouldn’t be ashamed to have my kids scroll through.

When Blitmap was made public domain, I was thrilled to see the different projects and creations that began springing up. These derivatives were being created not just by holders—the Blit magic became a draw for creators outside our immediate community. And these folks were accepted as well. I began collecting some of the derivatives and interacting more with folks in the Discord, and soon I replied to Dom’s request for writers. So without further delay (sometimes us Texans take a while to get to the point), let me introduce the first derivative project to be featured in this newsletter!

Hashmasker1’s 3D Blitmaps

One of the first projects to catch my eye was a 3D voxel project by Hashmasker1. This individual hails from Lisbon, Portugal, and became a Blitmap holder on the advice of a friend.

“I’m in a Telegram group with other crypto/NFT friends and we often share projects we like. When one person talked about Blitmap, I immediately thought it was interesting,” Hashmasker1 says. “I was intrigued by Blitmap being fully on-chain, and the final art being created by combining two pieces. The clincher was when my friend made a YouTube video about Blitmap. After watching it, I quickly bought one on the secondary market because minting was already closed by that time!”

Hashmasker1 became a holder before the public domain decision was announced. But even before that, he was tinkering with voxel art after watching another video on YouTube.

“Even though I’ve made a career in physics, I’ve always enjoyed drawing,” he continues. “After watching that video, I installed MagicaVoxel on my PC and began tinkering around with the program. I had already purchased my Blitmap [Embryo Ever Lovin #1689], and I thought it would be fun to make a 3D version of it.”

Hashemasker1's first concept drawing of a 3D Blitmap!
Hashemasker1's first concept drawing of a 3D Blitmap!

After it was announced that the original 1,700 Blitmaps were now part of the public domain, Hashmasker1 began working on developing his collection, 3D Blitmap.

“Derivatives are an expression of the creativity of a community and help create artistic ties between the community members while providing alternative artistic interpretations of the original art. They also offer an economic incentive that is possible because of web3,” he explains. “With the announcement, the Blitmap community at large could start developing art or other products based on the universe, ultimately driving brand awareness to Blitmap as a whole.”

While it was tempting to just import the 32-by-32-pixel Blitmap into MagicaVoxel and begin building, I was drawn to Hashmasker1’s project (and ultimately to purchase one of his pieces) because I saw that he went beyond merely adding dimensionality to the Blit. Often, he will put the Blitmap into context or add some interesting background elements.

The piece I purchased was his take on Genesis—I love how the Blitmap is framed on a subway-tile background, something of a tribute to the many artists based in New York City. His Watcher is both striking and spooky, putting the window with two beady eyes in context by incorporating it into a dimly lit house. Hillside is interesting because the sunny, bucolic scene it features is set against dark brick that reminds one of a jail cell—perhaps this is the prisoner’s only peaceful view into the outside world.

But for my money, the Mushroom 3D Blitmap takes the cake. Dubbed “Mushroom Pi” by the artist, the Mushroom Blitmap serves as a chip on a Raspberry Pi-esque device. The piece epitomizes the “maker” ethos that is so pervasive in the Web3 landscape.

Mushroom 3D Blitmap by Hashmasker1.
Mushroom 3D Blitmap by Hashmasker1.

The other thing that impresses me about Hashmasker1’s collection is that the artist is looking to expand beyond voxel art. In fact, prior to the interview, he posted in the #derivatives channel that he is now working on bringing his 3D Blitmaps to life through augmented reality (AR).

Hashmasker1 notes that “Voxels and AR are a perfect match,” and that moving forward he plans to distribute the voxel file and the AR file together with the NFT. For those who have already acquired a piece, the artist is going to provide a claiming mechanism for the AR file.

The Blitmap community has really responded to Hashmasker1’s 3D Blitmap collection. It is one of the few derivative collections that are completely sold out and, at the time of this writing, there are no pieces available on the secondary market. Next on his list to tackle are Blitmap #39 Periwinkle (the first to ship with the AR file), along with #54 Nude and #60 Eye. Due to work commitments, Hashmasker1 says that he does not have much time to work on his project during the week, so the process is somewhat slow. However, having time to breathe in a space that is often fast and furious gives him enough time to discover and develop new ideas.

A final note—I chose Hashmasker1’s work to be my first Blitmap derivative feature not just because I love his 3D Blitmap Collection, but also because he is a genuinely nice individual. When I was messing around with MagicaVoxel and had some challenges, he graciously put together a guide to help. Hashmasker1 has allowed me to link to it here to help others looking to explore this voxel medium.

“If someone asks for help, I always try to help if I can do it,” he explains. “The Blitmap community has been very welcoming and supportive since I've joined it, and it makes 100% sense to help someone who asks for something.”

Nifty’s Nook

Before I sign off this first ever Blitmap derivative newsletter, I want to thank you for reading it and being part of the greatest community in Web3! I’m constantly impressed by the creativity and kindness of folks in both the #holders and #general channels.

This first newsletter is a bit long, but I thought it was important to set the stage around the importance of public domain license and provide context for the decision that the Blitmap founder and founding artists made. Thanks to Hashmasker1 for being so kind, both in taking time out of his schedule for the interview and in all his contributions to the community!

NiftyPins is a member of the Blitmap community—you can find him frequently hanging out in the Blitmap Discord or on Twitter at @niftypins.

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